Visiting shrines and temples on your visit to Japan is a must. No matter how often you’ve been to Japan, there will always be one temple or shrine visit. Most people may be aware about the manners and customs associated with visiting shrines and temples in Japan. But not many are aware about “Goshuin” (御朱印).
Goshuin were originally prepared for those who went to a monastery or shrine to copy holy scriptures, and later this was expanded to all who visited the temple or shrine at a minimal cost. Each temple has its own unique design and the intense dark black ink with the red seals are classy and worthy of collecting. It also serves as a memory for all the shrines/temples you visited.
What is a Goshuin?
Goshuin (御 朱 印) is written by the temple priests or monks on a sheet of paper stamped and stamped with seals in Japan.
Each temple and shrine will have different stamps and writing methods. The stamps or seals are usually red and the lettering is black. The contrasting colors, beautiful calligraphy and sacredness of these has made them extremely popular. People collect this as a hobby and it has become quite a rage amongst youngsters too.
Since the Goshuin is a holy or sacred custom, make sure you treat it with respect and thank the monk when you receive it.
This book is called a Goshuin-cho (御朱印帳) and you are expected to get your Goshuin written in it.
Although it looks like a regular notebook, it is actually one piece of paper like a scroll.
These usually cost around 1,000 yen and each temple has its own cover designs that represent the temple, deity or season.
× Do not bring regular paper or notebook as it is considered bad manners.
Meaning behind what is written
Since most of the writing is Kanji, you might not understand what it says, but we have provided the meaning of each element.
① 奉拝 = Houhai meaning “To worship”
② 山号 = Sangou means an honorific mountain name associated with the temple or shrine. It is a term used to refer to the name of the temple. Because Japan is a mountainous country, some temples or shrines are prefixed with the name of the mountain they are located on. See left image, top right.
③ Black calligraphy: The name of the temple or shrine
④ Oshi-in: A red stamp or seal that provides the name of the shrine or temple. Sometimes, you also see sacred phrases in Siddham (Bonji).
⑤ Usually provides your purpose to pray. In this case on the left, it is a prayer or blessing to raise a child well.
⑥ Day you visited the temple or shrine and received it.
Where to get a Goshuin?
Each temple usually has an area where they sell amulets and other holy charms, you can buy your Goshuin-cho here too.
You will most likely see the sign ” 御 朱 印 受 付 “.
Things to remember
● The normal fee to get a Goshuin is 300 yen. Do not forget to pay this.
● Stand quietly and wait for your turn.
● Usually you can get these from 9:00 to 16:00. Do not request for one if the working hours are over for the day.
● Even if you forget to bring your Goshuin-cho, you can buy a Goshuin on a separate piece of paper and later stick it.
How about taking this very special aspect of visiting temples back with you to your home country?
Don’t forget to understand the basic rules and manners while visiting shrines and temples in Japan!